Do you love life? Do you enjoy people? Are you enthusiastic about what you do? Do you wake up excited for your new day? Do your eyes sparkle? Are you playful? Then you've got Shen.
If you currently don’t feel eager, excited, or joyful but you normally do, then this is natural. We all can swing into periodic contemplative, confused or unhappy states, for living in the world of polarity means we experience both ups and down. But if you feel a lack of will, dullness in life, have no sheen to your face, or spring to your step, then you lack Shen.
Shen reflects the entire physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health of your body. It includes the capacity to think and act coherently and appropriately, your personality’s magnetic force and the joy to live life. It is distinguished by the sparkle in your eyes, an overall vivaciousness and a will to live. Housed in the Heart, Shen is your enthusiasm, charisma, and innate vitality. Spiritually, it is the dynamic faith, vitality and force of your personality that is able to surmount obstacles and make things happen.
There are no disharmonies of Shen in and of itself, yet because it is connected with the Heart, Deficient Heart Qi or Blood can weaken it. This appears as a lack of joy or enthusiasm in life, dull eyes, dislike of talking, muddled thinking, forgetfulness, insomnia, lack of vitality, depression, unhappiness, confused speech, or excessive dreaming. Heart Fire or Phlegm misting the Heart orifices can also impair Shen, causing irrational behavior, incoherent speech, hysteria, delirium, unconsciousness, inappropriate responses to people or the environment, or violent madness.
However, if you’ve got any physical imbalance, then you won’t physically feel in top form and when you don’t feel good, your emotions and thoughts decline. If this continues, ultimately your Shen is affected, too. Because of this, it’s easy to understand why Shen, along with Jing (essence) and Qi (life force), is considered one of the three treasures in Chinese medicine, for it is integral to our health and well-being.
Whether or not you "got Shen," you can bring back more joy and enthusiasm through several ways. Even one little thing can make a difference. Give your physical heart what it needs and this will automatically brighten your Shen.
So go for it: get Shen!
In the next installment of this blog, we will explore some of the above mentioned herbs and others for the treatment of Shen disharmony.
 G.K. Chesterton; from the chapter entitled "The Eternal Revolution," in the book, Orthodoxy.